Friday, August 19, 2022

3 common occupational diseases and how to prevent them

An occupational disease is one resulting from the nature of your work. Different occupations have their respective safety hazards, depending on what you’re constantly exposed to. Typically, those individuals with the same occupations have a higher chance of getting affected by a certain disease than the rest of the population.

While you may not have control over the presence of those inherent risk exposures at work, there are many things you can do to prevent them. The most important thing is to be aware of what those risks are once you accept the job or apply for one, so every time you report to work, you can be cautious about keeping yourself protected.

With that said, here are three of the most common occupational diseases and what you can do to prevent them:

  1. Skin Cancer

Among the many types of cancer which may be classified as an occupational disease, skin cancer is one of the common ones. Occupational skin cancer refers to a resemblance of tumours in squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. For instance, some skin cancers may be due to regular, direct exposure to the sun every day at work or a scar formation following an industrial burn.

These are some of the measures which may be successful at preventing the risk of developing skin cancer from work:

  • Wearing suitable clothing to protect from direct UV radiation;
  • Seek the shade between 10 am to 4 pm;
  • Reach out to a trusted medical professional who talks about it and have regular consultation as a part of your annual medical check.

Apart from skin cancer, these are some of the most common types of cancers which may arise as an occupational disease:

  • Exposure to asbestos fibre at work may lead to cancers in the colorectum, lung, and pharynx;
  • Metalworking fluids and mineral oils may lead to cancers in the bladder and sinonasal area;
  • Diesel engine exhaust exposure may result in cancers in the lungs and bladder;
  • Arsenic exposure may result in cancers in the bladder, skin, and lungs;
  • Environmental tobacco smoke may lead to lung cancer.
  1. Eczema

For those who are working in situations where there’s overexposure to the sun and other skin irritants, eczema becomes one of the top occupational dermatitis diseases that may occur. In this case, some of the most common irritants which may lead to eczema at work are:

  • Nickel, if you’re working as a hairdresser, cashier, or in the field of electronics;
  • Epoxy resins, from varnishes and paint if you’re working in construction, as an artist, or in electronics;
  • Formaldehyde, if you work in the embalming industry, healthcare, or in fibreboard and textile manufacturers;
  • Textile dyes and pigments, if you’re employed in the manufacturing industry;

If you notice bouts of eczema happening, never self-medicate or do a trial-and-error with different products. It’s always best to consult a dermatologist. You can prevent its flare-ups at work with the following tips:

  • Avoid what your eczema triggers are and keep work stress as low as possible;
  • Treat any cuts and scrapes immediately;
  • Avoid harsh cleansers and other skin products.
  1. Asthma And Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Respiratory irritants are very common in the workplace, especially if you work in the manufacturing or production industry. Two of the most common occupational diseases which may arise out of exposure to respiratory irritants are asthma and COPD.

The following occupations may be linked with a potentially higher possibility of developing asthma and COPD from the workplace:

  • Agriculture;
  • Welders;
  • Brick making;
  • Textiles;
  • Mining.

COPD is characterized as a disease with airflow limitation that’s not fully reversible. This can be progressive due to the abnormal inflammatory response that’s happening in the lungs. Asthma, on the other hand, isn’t as progressive and more manageable.

In general, here are some tips on how you can prevent its onset in the workplace:

  • Follow your asthma plan once you’ve already been diagnosed;
  • Avoid any asthma triggers;
  • Identify and treat early signs of an attack.


The list above is only some of the most common occupational diseases you may suffer from, and there are still many others. It’s up to you to identify your triggers based on the job you do and what you’re consistently exposed to at work. As you’re now aware of these possible occupational diseases, the most important thing for you to remember is to be proactive about them.

Be sure to immediately seek medical advice because the earlier you can treat your occupational diseases, the lower the likelihood for it to progress into something more serious. Don’t take for granted any small symptom you may experience, especially if you know you’re exposed to hazards at work.

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